Jonath Robles of J.R. Horse Training, is internationally recognized for starting colts and being a traveling clinician. Jonath traveled the U.S. competing in colt starting competitions in 2016 and qualified to compete in the Colt Starting National Finals in Las Vegas during the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR), where he placed 3rd in the nation and ended the year Reserve Champion overall in points. He mainly focuses on colt starting, reining, ranch pleasure and working with problem horses, all with Natural Horsemanship as the driving teaching method. In 2018, Jonath started competing at the Regional Stockhorse shows, which include Cutting, Reining, Cowhorse, Ranch Pleasure and Trail. In 2019 he was invited to compete in the Reining Freestyle Invitational through the Western States Stock Horse organization, where he ended up winning first place. Jonath has given presentations and demos at the Northwest Horse Expo in Oregon and the Washington State Horse Expo, but this year he will be one of the headlining clinicians at the Equine Affaire Horse Expo in Columbus Ohio, one of the biggest horse expos in the country.
Jonath’s passion for horses started at a very young age when he was exposed to horse guided tours on the beaches of Mexico when he would visit family. From that moment on, he knew that he had found something that he could not get enough of and made it a point to have horses be a part of his life. Jonath’s passion was put on hold while he attended the University of Oregon, where he graduated with a BA in Sociology and completed a Minor in Spanish in 2009.
Through his studies at the University of Oregon, Jonath dove into the world of “why?” when it came to the interaction of people with one another. Jonath studied why certain people were more successful in life than others. Opportunity, education, and knowing the right people; these play a huge role in dictating someone’s success. Jonath took these findings and implemented them into the world of horses. Opportunity; A horse needs to be given an opportunity to show that they can be great, and sometimes it might have to be a second, third, or fourth opportunity. Education; with the proper education a horse will do anything that he asked to do, not just because he is being asked to do it, but because he actually wants to and enjoys doing it. Knowing the right people; a horse with the right horseman or horsewoman can be an amazing horse, but in the wrong hands, a horse can sometimes even turn into a dangerous one. It’s not always just excessive discipline that can make a horse a dangerous, sometimes the lack of discipline can be just as detrimental if not worse.
It has often been said that Jonath has a natural talent when it comes to working with horses; something that you are just born with, not something that can be learned. Jonath grew up around horse trainers that used a lot of old school cowboy training methods, most of those methods seemed more cruel than effective. Jonath knew there had to be a better way to work with horses and quickly grew a fascination, almost an obsession with Natural Horsemanship. Jonath admires and follows the teachings of Ray Hunt, Tom Dorrance, Monty Roberts, and Buck Brannaman. Jonath says, “Some of the things that these trainers can do with a horse seem so unreal, its so beautiful that you almost feel like you are dreaming, I consider it ‘live art”. Jonath’s natural talent has provided him the opportunity to travel to some beautiful places and work with some amazing trainers.
Working with different trainers and different disciplines, Jonath incorporates a little bit of everything into his training sessions. Jonath believes that horses are like humans athletes; some are going to be great at tennis, others great at basketball, and they are all going to have their work out regiments specific to their sport. “Not every horse that I work with is going to be a reiner or a working cow horse. I’m going to get some horses in training that have a background in Dressage or Western Pleasure, so knowing a little bit of each discipline is key. The worst thing you can do is limit yourself and think that your discipline is the correct one and that all other disciplines are wrong”. Jonath always gives thanks to those trainers who gave him a chance to work with them and learn from them.
One of these amazing trainers that Jonath got to work with is Connie Erickson. Connie also an Oregon Alum, traveled to Linnville, TN to attend Huntlea Horse Center where she earned both Asistant Instructor and Instructor certificates under Mrs. Joan Hunt F.B.H.S. According to Connie, though, her real training didn’t start until she became a student of Karl Mikolka, a retired Oberbereiter (Chief Rider) originally from the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria. Recently Jonath was fortunate enough to be one of a handful of people to be hand picked to work with Les Vogt at a private clinic in Portland, Oregon. Les Vogt, famously known for working with King Fritz and Chex A Nic, is a 16 time National Reining Champion and one of the great cowboys to be inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame. Jonath was chosen for this clinic by Samantha Moore, also a natural horsemanship trainer who has worked side by side with the likes of Ray Hunt and Tom Dorrance.
Jonath believes in second chances, not only with horses, but in life as well. Because of this mentality, Jonath will take on the challenge of working with a horse that has been neglected or abused. He will work with that horse in a manner similar to that of a psychologist or therapist working with a patient that has been physically and/or emotionally abused. Jonath takes a slow approach with the horse and digs deeper into the horse’s personality. “It is more than just training a horse”, Jonath says. “It’s working with a horse to build a bond, respect, and most importantly trust. There has to be a friendship, a partnership, it cant just always be teacher/student or boss/employee”. We can’t always be the horses best friend, there will come a time where we will have to set boundaries and rules for our equine friend. When we discipline, it has to be done in such a way where we do not discourage the horse. Instead, we discipline and encourage the horse to want to do the correct thing. “Gentle in what you do, firm in how you do it” is a philosophy that Jonath practices every day when working with horses. If you ever get the chance to watch Jonath work with a horse, it seems almost like a choreographed dance between him and the horse. If you’re having issues with your horse, if you’re close to giving up, and you feel like you’re out of ideas, get in touch with Jonath and let him give your horse that second chance.
“The best memories and the best rewards are those times when I show a client their horse’s progress even after a couple of weeks and the client says absolutely nothing, then they approach me with tears in their eyes and give me a hug. I love my job“. – Jonath
Jonath is really an artist with horses. Had a chance to watch him this weekend at the Northwest Horse Expo. I also had the pleasure of having him ride my Kiger stallion and it was clear that my horse was respected and enjoyed working with Jonath. He is kind and effective and horses seem to pick up on that immediately. He really has what it takes to bring out the best in a horse and have fun doing so.